How to Completely Erase a Hard Disk Drive Or Any Storage Device




The three most common ways to erase a hard drive is by formatting, wiping & physically destroy the drive.

If you've decided to donate your old computer to a charity, local group or school, it's extremely important to make sure your computer's hard drive is completely free of data.  Remove sensitive business information, or even personal information such as stored passwords, personal documents and credit card numbers that could be retrieved. The two most common ways to erase a hard drive is by formatting or wiping the hard drive.

  • Erasing and Formatting: Just Not Secure Enough
    • Deleted files still reside on the hard drive  Formatting the hard drive is a bit more secure than simply erasing the files. Formatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the address tables.
  • Disk Wiping Options (aka. Data Dump)
    • Even more secure than reformatting is a process called disk wiping (or disk scrubbing). The term disk wiping is not only used in reference to hard drives but any storage device such as CDs, RAIDs, flash drives and other storage devices.  Disk wiping is a secure method of ensuring that data is gone, write the entire disk with a number (zero or one), then a reformat will be needed.   The more times the disk is overwritten and formatted the more secure the disk wipe is.
  • Physical Destruction
    • Smash it, burn it, magnetize it, pour acid on it or do anything to physically destroy the data (plates) in/on the hard drive.

Disk wiping standards require overwriting a hard drive six times


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